Childcare workers receive thank you checks | Local News

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BRATTLEBORO — Jessica Corbeil considers the check she received through the Child Care Counts Coalition in Windham County initiative “a very nice thank you.”

“It was pretty fabulous,” said Corbeil, a teacher at West Bee Nursery School in West Brattleboro who has been in the field for about 20 years. “It was really nice to feel valued, you know, for all the hard work we early educators do every day. It’s definitely not a job where you make millions of dollars, but it has its own rewards and that’s why we all do it. It was nice to have some compensation.

Through a fundraising effort, the coalition raised $54,150, including $25,000 from Turrell Fund grants, $14,575 from community members, and a Thomas Thompson Trust match of $14,575. An application process resulted in 115 full-time teachers receiving $420 each, 22 part-time teachers and the federal Head Start program receiving $210, and public school educators receiving a $50 Visa gift card . Public school programs were excluded because teachers tend to earn higher salaries than other early learning programs.

Last Wednesday, Chloe Learey presented checks to three employees of the West Bee Nurse School.

“It was a great feeling to present a check to these teachers,” said Learey, who started the coalition in 2018 and is executive director of the Winston Prouty Center for Child and Family Development. “They were really happy and it was really fun. It made my week, maybe my month.

Corbeil said she has no specific plans for the extra money at this time.

“We’re sort of putting it away right now as a buffer in case we need it,” she said.

Learey envisions the checks being used to repair a car or cover escalating gas prices, saying “small amounts of money can sometimes make a big difference.”

She said the Elizabeth Christie Fund, created for this effort and named for a local woman who is a strong advocate for the estate, will continue to serve as “a vehicle to support our mission to maintain and add childcare slots. children in Windham County”.

“I think it’s supposed to be flexible and responsive to any needs that might arise in the community,” she said.

When the fund was launched, its goal was to help retain child care workers. Learey called the checks “a band aid to offer appreciation and let people know how much we appreciate them.”

Learey hopes there will be changes soon. A bill passed by the Vermont legislature last year would increase grant reimbursements, she said, theoretically helping to pay child care workers more and cover professional development costs.

The coalition’s next project is expected to be a series of webinars or videos sharing information about opening or expanding child care programs. It’s a way to add much-needed niches to the area, Learey said.

“We have closed classrooms and not enough people to work,” she said.

Moriah Carney, principal and head teacher at West Bee Nursery School, who has been in the business for more than 20 years, described being “really impressed with how our community values ​​us so much”.

“A lot of times we get things that happen at the state level, but it was really heartwarming to see our community recognize how hard all of the early educators work and this is one of the first that I can remember where it has been a community initiative,” she said. “It was a bit tearful. It was so good to receive funding for all the work we needed to do.

Carney recounted how throughout the pandemic, caregivers continued to work tirelessly.

“It was extremely difficult,” she said. “We wear so many hats as early educators, we had to breathe a little and live one day at a time to do our best to survive.”

Carney said the pandemic “has really reinforced the importance of our role at the state and community level, and we’re really part of the backbone that makes our economy stronger.” And because of that, it seems like our legislators are really listening to our pleas. We need higher salaries. We need benefits.

Giving a “huge shoutout” to all coalition fundraising supporters, Carney said she hasn’t decided exactly how she will use the money, but it will definitely be something for her family. She suggested the possibility of a camping trip or a road trip or something to reconnect with family after working really long hours.

“My kids, I know, have been put on the back burner at times so I can do the work that’s ahead of me,” she said.

Jessica “Essy” Farquhar, a teaching assistant at West Bee Nursey School, who has been attending kindergarten on and off since 2007, said it meant a lot to her to “feel that appreciation from the community.” She plans to use the money to take her family camping.

Farquhar called the childcare job “so fulfilling.”

“You can work on something with a kid and just see that light bulb go out and see the pride on their face,” she said. “It makes all the tough days worth it.”

Learey said it was good to wrap up the fundraising campaign and “tie a knot” in the project. She wishes a little more money could have been raised for the effort, but said she was proud of the amount raised.

“I feel like our community really stepped up and supported the early educators and realized how important they are,” she said.

Coalition member and public relations professional Marty Cohn suggested the project could be emulated in other communities.

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